My daughter’s worst nightmare – right here on the shores of La Penita!
Those of you of an age to remember Alfred Hitchcock’s, The Birds, can possibly relate to this strangely reoccurring phenomenon. Everyone knows that shorebirds abound along coastal waters and that they hang out awaiting the spoils thrown back into the water by the local fishermen. But these Jaltemba Bay birds are truly uncanny. They absolutely ‘know’ when to arrive for the daily feast. They seem to come prepared to ‘do battle’ because they ‘know’ it won’t come easy. I do believe that each species (the gulls, the high flying frigates, and the pelicanos) make a point of telling all their friends to come and join in the battle (the old ‘safety in numbers’ theory). They show up by the hundreds (well, so I embellish a bit), waiting, waiting, waiting.
One afternoon while quietly sitting at a beach restaurant under an umbrella having a cool beverage (ahem), I comment to my husband, “Isn’t it odd that all those pelicanos are just bobbing up and down in the ‘big-ish’ waves. They are not feeding. They are not fishing. What are they all doing here?” I naively ask. To which he replies, “They are just resting, my dear.” Well that’s silly, I decide. They have the whole ocean and they hang out here. Boring!
After a while I get preoccupied watching the moms, kids, and grandpas repeatedly enjoying getting mashed into the sand by those same ‘big-ish’ waves. I suppose I am daydreaming and wishing that I was in the waves with them…
Then, all too suddenly, I become aware of a dark cloud descending from above and afar. It is instantly noisy – a real racket! I glance up. I nearly dive for cover under the picnic table. Instead, I bravely hold my hand over my head in case of falling debris and zero in on what is happening.
Remember those ‘hundreds’ of birds I mentioned? Out of nowhere have come the gulls and the frigates to join the pelicanos who are no longer ‘resting’. Now they are a-zipping and a-zooming right over top of us. Some are landing, some are diving, some are taking off. They are all on the move. Wings, and beaks and tails. Its utter caos…. Or is it really?
Once I get over my paranoia of being attacked by ‘The Birds’, I begin to gawk at the marvelous display of wingmanship. These birds are amazing. They buzz-bomb each other at breakneck speed, spiraling every which way, beaks severally and dangerously protruding in a beeline for the prize. Fish guts. As the fisherman lets fly with a tub of fish entrails and other assorted bird treats pandomonium ensues.
The aerial war is on. Who will snag a taste? It’s a wild and wooly contest. While the pelicans out-weigh the frigates and the gulls by a long shot, they definitely are not the fastest bird on the beach, so to speak. The smaller birds hold their own. They can zip in between a gaggle of chunky pelicans and nab a bite and be off on another spin.
“Why don’t they crash? I don’t get it,” I wonder to myself. It’s almost like a highly orchestrated air-ballet. Unfortunately the sounds are NOT music to my ears. Can you even imagine the ruckus these grumpy, greedy, dueling aviators can make? And beware the bird who happens to snag a piece of fish. That poor fellow knows that he’d better swallow fast because the tag team is relentless.
You can almost hear their little bird brains screaming. “It’s mine! I got it first,” shrieked the gull. “No!” fumed the frigate. “Its mine now!”. Meanwhile the wily pelicano understands that if he is lucky enough to get to the airborne lunch first he can just open his huge throat pouch and let the reward drop in. His refrain then sounds like, “Watch me and weep,” as his combatants angrily circle around him.
Alas, soon the bird treats have all been devoured. Peace returns to the shores of La Penita.
It’s a good thing my daughter did not witness this or she would never come to visit us down here by the sea. I don’t know where she gets her fear & loathing of birds. After all she likely doesn’t even know who Alfred Hitchcock was!
Camille has decided to take a hiatus for now. If you would like to hear more from Camille email us to let us know, and we will in turn pass the word on to her.
Camille, who wishes to remain anonymous, just moved to La Peñita and has been writing about her experiences. She is using the pseudonym (nom de plume) Camille – just because she likes it – and has titled her stories “Camille’s Conjectures”. According to the Cambridge Dictionaries On-line, the definition of conjecture is “(the forming of) a guess about something based on how it seems and not on proof”, which seems to fit her muses quite nicely, seeing that these are her impressions and not necessarily based on “facts”.